Ambiens to Ani

Bird Dictionary

Get more interesting bird facts and information at The Wonder of Birds or check out more from our bird dictionary:

Aasvogel to Albino

Alectorides to Amazon

Ambiens to Ani

Anisodactyli to Ateal

Auk to Axilla

Babbler to Barley Bird

Barwing to Bengali

Berghaan to Blackbird

Blackcap to Bluecap

Bluethroat to Bronze Wing

Brubru to Buzzard

Caeca to Carr Goose

Cashew Bird to Charadriomorphae

Chat to Churn Owl

Circulation to Cob

Cobblers-Awl to Coracoid

Coracomorphae to Crest

Crocker to Cypselomorphae

Dabchick to Devling

Dhayal to Dollarbird

            The Ambiens  is a muscle (so called by Sundevall, Forhandl. Skand. Naturf. 1851, pages. 259-269: abstract in Rep. Brit. Assoc. 1855, Trans. of Sect. p. 137) which, arising from the pectineal process of the pelvis, runs along the inner surface of the thigh, passes the knee as a string-like tendon, and then forms one of the heads of the deep flexor muscle of the second and third toe. It has been argued that the taxonomic value of this muscle has been much over-estimated since Garrod (P. Z. S. 1874, pp. 111-123) divided the Class into Homalogonatae, birds possessing an ambiens muscle, and Anomalogonatea, or birds without such a muscle.

The muscle is typically developed in:

  • Crypturi
  • Gallinae
  • Pteroclidae
  • Grallae
  • Laridae
  • Colymbidae
  • Steganopodes
  • Impennes
  • Anseres
  • Accipitres
  • Coccyges
It is absent in:
  • Striges
  • Cypselomorphae
  • Halcyones
  • Epopes
  • Trogonidae
  • Pici
  • Passeres
  • Herodii
  • Alcidae
  • Podicipedae
It is very variable in:
  • Ratitae
  • Pelargi
  • Tubinares
  • Columbae
  • Psittaci
See also Muscular system.

            Also spelt Amadavat, or Avaduvat, the name given to a well-known favourite cage-bird, Estrilda amandava (see Weaver-Bird), being a corruption of Ahmadabad, the name of a town in Goojerat whence, more than 300 years ago, according to Fryer (New Account of East India, &c., London: 1698), examples were brought to Surat. In his peculiar style he tells us (p. 116) that "they are spotted with White and Red, no bigger than Measles, the principal Chorister beginning, the rest in Concert, Fifty in a cage, make an admirable Chorus."

            A Greek word of doubtful derivation, used already by Aristotle. From either end of the body of the very early embryo grows out a fold which passes dorsally over the embryo, and unites above it with its fellow from the other end; between the two layers of this double fold, which is the amnion, extends the body-cavity, and receives the rapidly-growing allantois; the outer membrane of the allantois fuses with the outer double fold of the amnion, and forms the chorion, lining the eggshell (see Embryology). The amnion affords one of the principal differentiating characters in the vertebrata; Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals are as Amniota (Haeckel, Anthropogenie, 1874) opposed to Amphibians and Fishes or Anamnia.

            A group of birds so called by Nitzsch in 1829 (Observationes de Avium Carotide communi, p. 16) comprising the genera, as then understood, Musophaga (TOURACO), Colius (MOUSE- BIRD), and Opisthocomus (HOACTZIN); but by no means to be confused with the Amphiboli (see below).

            One of Illiger's groups, defined in 1811 (Prodromus Systematis Mammalium et Avium, p. 203), and composed of the genera Crotophaga, Scythrops, Bucco, Cuculus and Centropus- the third of which is treated of under the titles of Barbet and Puff-Bird, while the rest will be found under those of Ani, Channel Bill, and Cuckoo.

        A toe which can be reversed at will either backwards or forwards. The outer or fourth toe is amphibolic, and can be turned backwards in Pandion, the Striges; Musophagidae, Leptosomatidae, and Coliidae. This feature, when retained, forms the true zygodactyle foot. The Mouse-Birds can turn the first toe forwards, being thus enabled temporarily to assume the condition of some of the Swifts, or that of zygodactyle birds. Reversion of the second toe backwards has produced the pseudo-zygodactyle or heterodactyle foot of the Trogons (see Skeleton).

            The name given by Prof. Huxley (Proc. Zool. Soc. 1867, p. 460) to his second group of Desmognathae, which consists of the genus Phoenicopterus (Flamingo), as being "so completely intermediate between the Anserine birds on the one side, and the Storks and Herons on the other, that it can be ranged with neither of these groups, but must stand as the type of a division by itself."


Anhima or Anhinga
            See Snake-Bird.

            There are three species of Ani, all being black colored birds, with very long tails which are almost as lengthy as the bird's own body.  The three species form the genus Crotophaga, which is one of  the most remarkable forms of the Cuculidae (Cuckoo) of the New World.  These birds are quite gregarious, and several pairs of birds will share the building of one single nest.  That nest is then used by a number of different females who share the responibility of incubation of the eggs, and subsequent feeding of the chicks.

According to Marcgrave (Hist. Rer. Nat. Brasiliae, p. 193), Ani is the Brazilian name of what is the Crotophaga major of modern ornithologists, also known as the Greater Ani.  Linnaeus's identified the Crotophaga ani, which is Crotophaga major's smaller congener, the Smooth-billed Ani, and which is an inhabitant of the Antilles and part of the Spanish Coast.  This latter is known to most of the English-speaking people of the West Indies as the Black Witch or Savanna Blackbird.   A third species, Crotophaga sulcirostris or the Groove Billed Ani has a curved bill with grooves running horizontally along the bird's upper mandible.

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